Theresa Le Flem Heads to Canterbury for a Book Signing and Talk to Discuss ‘The Sea Inside His Head’

The Sea Inside His HeadA daughter of the artist Cyril Hamersma, Theresa was raised in London and married at nineteen. After having three children in quick succession she trained as a hairdresser, took up pottery but ended up working in a factory to pay the bills. After her eventual divorce she married again in 2006. Finally, having the support of friends and family, and with her children settled in New York and Kent, Theresa is able to follow her passion for writing and express her strong views about social injustice. She is an avid listener of Radio 4 and a keen gardener, growing all of her own vegetables. The Sea Inside His Head is her first novel.

Last week, Theresa enjoyed a talk and book-signing at Waterstones, Canterbury. Here’s how it went:

The venue for my talk and book-signing was the Coffee Shop in Waterstones, St. Margaret’s Street, Canterbury in Kent. It was Sunday afternoon 16th September and my dear husband Graham, electrical engineer by day and my proof-reader by night, was supplying everyone with a complimentary glass of wine or orange juice.

‘So, what made the Miners’ Strike different to other strikes?’ I began, as I looked round my audience, with a curious smile. The people, including two ex-miners, a miner’s wife and several writers, looked at each other, mumbled and shook their heads. I tried again. ‘Why was it different to say, the teachers’, or civil-servants’, or the dustmen’s strike?’ I asked. ‘Well, I’ve got a theory!’ I went on to explain: other workers might strike about pay, hours, or cut-backs, and although united by their grievances, a strike does not have the same impact on their lives. The reason the miners were so strong and became so heated is because many were related by blood. Their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers had all been miners for generations before them and mining was the only job they knew. This is why I believe it all became so aggressive – so emotional.

Waterstones photo theresa le flemAnd they weren’t necessarily Kent people. Many of the men who worked in the Kent coalfields were descended from miners who moved down from the North – from Yorkshire and Lancashire, from Scotland and Wales. Many of them walked all the way because they couldn’t afford the train fare. Someone in the audience called out, ‘And they were trouble-makers in their own pits up there!’ I had to agree, as I had already learnt that some of them had been ‘blacklisted’ for causing trouble before. One of the ex-miners added, ‘Yeh, and they had new houses here to go to!’ This was true; in the early 1900s the Coal Board built houses for them, creating new mining villages around the pits. The miners’ children ran from room to room switching the lights on and off, amazed to find hot and cold running water and indoor bathrooms.

This brief discussion led me nicely into the four short extracts I had chosen to read from my novel: The Sea Inside His Head, which is a love-story set during the 1984 Miners’ Strike. After the second, I paused to reach for my sparkling water and as I did so a few began to show their appreciation. This spurred me on and I finished the last two extracts to some hearty applause. Questions and answers followed, and by this time I was feeling exhilarated – the audience were genuinely moved by my reading.

‘How long has coal-mining been going on in Kent?’ someone asked. I replied that it began when coal was discovered during initial excavations for the channel tunnel, at Shakespeare Cliff in Dover, in the 1890s. After this I went on to answer questions about how I first became published, where I lived during the strike, where I was living now, and more. During the general buzz of conversation – as by now the audience were all talking to each other too – Graham announced that Waterstones were hoping to close in ten minutes and if anyone wanted to buy a book and get it signed, now was the time to do it!

Theresa Le Flem

For more information on Theresa Le Flem and her books, click here

OUT TODAY: A Small Fortune by Patricia Fawcett

A Small Fortune by Patricia FawcettBorn in Preston, Lancashire, Patricia Fawcett now lives in Devon, close to her family. She divides her time between writing, being a lively grandmother and a volunteer at a National Trust property. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the West Country Writer’s Association. Her previous novels include Rumours and Red Roses and Just Another Day, both published by Robert Hale.

A SMALL FORTUNE OFFICIAL BLURB

What would you do if you won the Lottery? Angela and Tom leave their roots and move to a designer home overlooking Morecambe Bay. Despite the money, Angela is discontented, Tom has changed into a businessman with grandiose plans, and their daughter Melanie is aimless.

A visit to Angela’s sister Moira brings to a head their disparate relationships – Tom’s business plans unravel bringing unexpected money worries, and Angela is faced with revealing that she has been sending money regularly to Cheryl who wrote a begging-letter after the win. Should she trust her, for is Cheryl all she seems?

Praise for the author:

‘A great read, its characters are very likeable and easily identifiable and there are many twists and turns from the main plotline to keep the reader intrigued’ – Redrosesforauthors.com

A Small Fortune by Patricia Fawcett is out now with a limited time only discount of 30%

OUT TODAY: Orphans of Chance by Peter Taylor

Orphans of Chance by Peter TaylorPeter Taylor was born in Sedgefield, County Durham and has worked as both a teacher and a prison lecturer. A prolific Black Horse Western and crime thriller writer, Taylor’s previous novels include Trails of Fate, Stitched and Stone Cold.

ORPHANS OF CHANCE OFFICIAL BLURB

Detective Sergeant John Niven was adopted, and believed he had adjusted to that long ago. But a personal crisis makes him wonder about his origins, his career and his future with Gill, his girlfriend.

Simultaneously, he is hunting a killer who might well be a fellow policeman and, when Gill becomes inexplicably entangled, Niven sinks deeper into the case. When he identifies a break in the investigation it helps him unravel the killer’s purpose and, he believes, the killer’s identity. In a final confrontation, it appears the fates have been cruelly mocking him and it seems he really is an orphan of chance.

Praise for the Author

“A book that would leave even Poirot on the edge of his seat” – Crack Magazine

“A gripping read” – The Evening Gazette

“Sensitivity and suspense in just the right amounts” – The Yorkshire Gazette

Orphans of Chance is available to pre-order now with a limited time only discount of 30%

Black Horse Western Series: The Appeal of the Wild West

BHWThe Black Horse Western series has provided Robert Hale Ltd readers with drama, action and suspense over the years. Here, some of Robert Hale’s Black Horse Western authors tell us why they love writing westerns and what it is that they love about the genre.

Paul Green

The Gun Runners by Paul GreenI have always enjoyed reading westerns and watching western films because the genre covers such a broad range of themes. It is possible to write about revenge, betrayal, love, greed, redemption and a host of other issues. The historical background provides a lot of rich material for writers as the West was going through a time of rapid change in the late nineteenth century. The violent and often lawless nature of the society can be drawn on to produce stories that contain conflict, action and suspense.

‘Writing westerns enables me to escape into a completely different world’ – Paul Green

Writing westerns enables me to escape into a completely different world which is as much about the mythical west of the imagination as the real one inhabited by actual people. I enjoy creating stories in which characters must win gunfights, face bandits and cross vast deserts on horseback while safe in the knowledge that I will never have to do any of these things myself. Westerns provide all the drama I could wish for without having to leave home.

The Gun Runners by Paul Green is available to pre-order now

Steve Hayes

Drifter by Steve HayesI’ve always loved westerns. As a boy growing up in London during the Blitz, my favorite game was playing Cowboys and Indians on the rubble of bombed-out buildings. My favorite movie stars included many western heroes, such as John Wayne, Joel McCrae, Audie Murphy and Randolph Scott; and two of my favorite films were Red River and Stagecoach.

‘As a boy growing up in London during the Blitz, my favorite game was playing Cowboys and Indians on the rubble of bombed-out buildings’ – Steve Hayes

When I came to the States in 1949 as an actor, Westerns were in and through my close friendship with Errol Flynn I became friends with many famous western writers like Borden Chase, Louis L’Amour and William Bowers. At their urging, I decided to start writing westerns myself. My first story became a movie called Escort West. After that I turned to TV and began writing shows like How the West Was Won, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Maverick, The Westerner, etc. I found I could express my ideas of justice, fair play and gentile treatment of women in westerns more than any other medium. Westerns also fit my terse style of writing.

Today, even though I write other genres as well, my true love is still westerns.

Drifter by Steve Hayes is available to pre-order now

Terrell Bowers

Invite to a Showdown by Terrell BowersWesterns are in my blood. From the first movies I ever saw to Saturday Westerns on television, I remember heroes like Hopalong Cassidy, Sunset Carson, Johnny Mack Brown and Bob Steel. Through the years I graduated to the more modern screen heroes like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart and Clint Eastwood. I played cowboys from the time I could walk until my early teens, had my own horse and gun from the time I was eight. Grasshoppers, mice and wasps could not escape my BB gun and I began shooting for real at twelve.

One of the things I try to do as an author is stick to history. That means the guns, means of transport, and often some actual history is included in a number of my stories. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I do read a lot of history and personal stories of triumph or sacrifice during the 1850-1880 years. My own great grandmother, Mary Goble Pay, was part of a handcart company that came from England to Utah in 1846. During their journey, they were too late in making the trip and suffered from the cold and snowstorms and hunger. At thirteen, she lost her mother, a baby brother and another brother during that bitter ordeal. All of her toes were frozen and had to be amputated. Reading her journal still brings tears to my eyes, but she endured to have a bunch of kids and teach Indians to speak English.

‘After a couple hundred books, I grew tired with some of the characters and plots. I wanted more humor and more he and she action so I started to write my own’ – Terrell Bowers

When I was out of high school, my dad got me interested in reading Westerns. After a couple hundred books, I grew tired with some of the characters and plots. I wanted more humor and more he and she action so I started to write my own. It took me 15 years of rejections slips and a dozen failed titles until I finally got published in 1979. A few years later I discovered Hale Books and landed a few titles with them. I still enjoy writing about the Western era, an innocent time when one man could make a difference.

Invite to a Showdown by Terrell Bowers is available to pre-order now

Chuck Tyrell

Road to Rimrock by Chuck TyrellThe news that western novels are dead or dying comes along every decade or so – news that is greatly exaggerated.

Many western novelists say they grew up on a diet of Gunsmoke and Wanted Dead or Alive with a smattering of Bonanza. I grew up where much of the West happened. My granddad earned enough money making charcoal for the silver mines in Nevada to buy four sections of range in Arizona, some land along Show Low Creek, and to add more, he homesteaded 160 acres in a place called Fool’s Hollow where the country club is now located. We always had horses and cows and pigs and chickens. We raised our own truck. We raised corn for us and for our animals. We branded and castrated and earmarked and swabbed it all with pine tar oil to keep the blowflies away. In other words, I lived my boyhood in circumstances not far removed from those I write about.

‘I lived my boyhood in circumstances not far removed from those I write about’ – Chuck Tyrell

When settlers moved into a new territory and set up a new town, chances are the first public building was a church, the second a school. They were there to build a life. They had strong ideas of right and wrong. They worked from dawn ‘til dark just to get along. And sometimes they couldn’t make it. But most of the time they could.

My western stories are often not quite as bloody as some. Most of them are about people I could have called neighbor in my boyhood years. Most of them could have worked side by side with my granddad. I respect these people. I believe their will to build a life would serve us well today. And I hope my stories may influence some reader to try a little harder and to realize that one person really can make a difference.

Road to Rimrock by Chuck Tyrell is available to pre-order now

OUT TODAY: Full Circle by Roberta Grieve

Full Circle by Roberta GrieveRoberta Grieve has always loved writing and when she took early retirement, after working for West Sussex Library Service for over twenty years, she was determined to turn her hobby into a second career. Her first book was published in 1998 and since then she has had many stories and articles published.

She is secretary of the Chichester Writers’ Circle and editor of the Chichester Literary Society’s quarterly newsletter. In her spare time she enjoys painting and walking, although writing and research always take precedence. She lives in Chichester, West Sussex.

FULL CIRCLE OFFICIAL BLURB

Although she believes nothing can really come of it, ladies’ maid Daisy March is eagerly awaiting the return on leave of naval lieutenant Jack Davenport, the brother of her mistress Georgina. She hopes that this time he will defy his family and declare his love. But before he can do so, she is accused of stealing and summarily dismissed.

Daisy takes up nursing, but, to her dismay, Georgina is also among the new recruits. When WWI breaks out, they are posted to Malta, where Daisy hopes to be reunited with Jack. When scandal threatens both girls, they renew their friendship. But tragedy strikes and it seems there will be no happy ending for either of them.

Praise for the author:

‘The author is a true storyteller’ – The Woman Writer

‘Rising star Roberta Grieve’ – Singletitles.com

Full Circle by Roberta Grieve is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%.

For more information, go to Roberta’s website at www.robertagrieve.co.uk

OUT TODAY: Another Home, Another Love by Gwen Kirkwood

Another Home, Another Love by Gwen KirkwoodGwen Kirkwood was born, and schooled, in Yorkshire but moved to Scotland to work. After meeting her husband, a Scottish dairyfarmer, she has spent most of her adult life north of the Border. Gwen has three children and six grandchildren. With a background in farming she has also written 15 family sagas and also 6 shorter romance novels. Another Home, Another Love is her first novel for Robert Hale.

ANOTHER HOME, ANOTHER LOVE BY GWEN KIRKWOOD – OFFICIAL BLURB

Rosemary Palmer-Farr loves farming and animals and has spent much of her childhood at Bengairney Farm with her dearest friends, the Carafords. Now, as a young woman, she wants to prove herself a good businesswoman by running the gardens of her father’s dwindling estate. Her mother, Catherine, is not impressed and wants her to secure a good marriage. She looks down on the Carafords because they are only tenant farmers.

When childhood friendship deepens into love, Catherine takes action and extracts a promise from Sam Caraford calculated to keep the young couple apart. She throws Rosemary into the company of eligible young gentleman, but Rosemary despises their attitudes and yearns only for Sam’s love.

Praise for the Author

‘Kirkwood’s ability to involve her readers emotionally will have them rooting for the hero’ – Booklist

‘Delivers a realism and charm which has become the hallmark of her books’ – Dumfries & Galloway Standard

‘Romance with a capital R’ – Manchester Evening News

 ‘Romance with more than a touch of steel to it and with a fine feel for the countryside’ – Northern Echo, Darlington

Another Home, Another Love is now available to buy in hardback at a limited time only discount of 30%.

The Bookbag Reviews The Lonely Furrow by Pamela Kavanagh

The Lonely Furrow by Pamela KavanaghThe lovely folks over at The Bookbag have reviewed Pamela Kavanagh‘s book The Lonely Furrow, ahead of its publication at the end of the month, saying that it had ‘endearing’ characters, ‘a real sense of location’ and is ‘perfect if you want a relaxing holiday or wet-Sunday-afternoon read’.

The Lonely Furrow by Pamela Kavanagh will be published on 31st May 2012 and is available to pre-order now.

For the full Bookbag review, check out the link here.

THE LONELY FURROW OFFICIAL BLURB

Disaster strikes the Drummond family with the collapse of the Glasgow Bank which results in them losing their business and subsequently their respectable place in society. For Nathan, this spells the end of his dream of an engineering career and also his betrothal to his beloved Isobel.

When an unexpected inheritance saves the day there are mixed feelings when the Drummonds are forced to leave their comfortable Glasgow home for a run-down farm in Shropshire. Chrissie, the little Highland maid, goes with them and proves a godsend during the difficult months, despite her secret, and increasingly strong, love for Nathan.

Can the family keep the shame of their past hidden? And can Nathan learn to manage the farm and also recognize love for the girl who is keeping his family together?

Wendy Perriam Author Interview: Part One

wendy perriam

Credit: Frank Baron

Wendy Perriam has not one but two books out with Robert Hale Ltd this month. Her novel Broken Places is out in paperback following on from its tremendous success in hardback. Her collection of short stories, I’m on the Train!, is also out on Monday. 

In the first part of her interview with us, Wendy talks about writing from an early age, her long journey into publishing, getting kicked out of convent school and just where her ideas come from.

Don’t forget to check back later for part two …

Have you always enjoyed writing, from a young age?

Absolutely! I wrote my first poems and stories from the age of four and my first ‘novel’ at eleven. The latter was sheer wish-fulfilment. Entitled A Pony at Last, it featured an ordinary girl like me, who longed to own a pony – highly unlikely in my own case, since we lived in a suburban semi, in a cul-de-sac, miles from any field or stable. The only horse in evidence was the milkman’s decrepit nag. However, my heroine and alter ego becomes the proud possessor of a thoroughbred chestnut mare, so, before I’d even reached my teens, I had realized the power of writing to remake an unsatisfactory world.

I was a sickly, unsporty child, so, while my siblings went skating and cycling, I preferred to curl up with a book, or pen my own variations on Black Beauty or the Famous Five. In fact, I spent much of my childhood with imaginary companions or in imaginary situations – as do several of the characters in my new short-story collection, despite their being adults. In the story Michael, the office dogsbody, Carole, finds strength and support in an Archangel, who becomes her guide, her protector, her shopping-consultant and even her alarm clock. And then there’s eighty-eight-year-old Connie, in Thick Hair, who re-enacts her wedding day, tragically aborted in 1941, when her fiancé’s ship went down; while Jodie, in Hope and Anchor, not only conjures up an imaginary dog, but also transforms her unloving, absent father into a proud and doting dad.

‘I spent much of my childhood with imaginary companions or in imaginary situations’ – Wendy Perriam on a childhood love of writing.

Although now in my seventies, I still draw on the power of the imagination, both in my life and in my work. I find it both consoling and compensatory; an alternative universe where anything can happen.

What was your journey into getting published like?

Well, I’d dreamed of being an author from early childhood, but a series of reverses prevented me from achieving publication until a much later stage. Firstly, I lost my once-all-important Catholic Faith and was expelled from my convent boarding-school. Told I was in Satan’s power, I lived in terror of damnation, which precipitated a long period of depression, followed by physical illness, fertility problems and a painful divorce. So it wasn’t until my remarriage – and the ripe old age of forty – that I saw my first book in print.

I’d been taken on by a literary agent, on the strength of my short stories – written more as diversion than in the hope of publication. This agent said that, if I wrote a novel, he’d publish it. Despite my own deep-seated doubts, he proved true to his word. Absinthe for Elevenses was accepted by Michael Joseph, the first publisher he tried, and came out in 1980. After that, I just put my head down and produced the next book – and the next – scared that if I stopped, my lucky break might come to a precipitous end!

How do you spend your average writing day?

I always start early in the morning and postpone household chores, emails and phone-calls till later in the day. It’s all too easy to waste vital energy on such trivial distractions! But, first, I make a cup of coffee in my special ‘writer’s mug’ – a Peter Rabbit one I’ve had since babyhood. Perhaps all those busy bunnies, racing round the rim, provide me with a good example of enterprise and exertion!

‘I just put my head down and produced the next book – and the next – scared that if I stopped, my lucky break might come to a precipitous end!’ – Wendy Perriam on the fear that comes with finally being published.

I'm on the Train! by Wendy PerriamWith my earlier novels, I’d start at page one and keep going till I reached the end, not stopping to revise until the first draft was completed. Now I’ve changed my method and tend to revise continuously – rewriting each chapter or each short story over and over, until I’ve licked it into reasonable shape.

I prefer to write by hand, in the same red notebooks I favoured as a child and using the same messy, slapdash scrawl. This seems to free the sub-conscious and thus aid the imagination, and I always encourage my creative writing students to swap the computer for a pen. Certainly in my own case, I find composing on a computer inhibiting and unnatural – perhaps because I didn’t own one until I was in my sixties. I didn’t even know how to type and had to enrol on a beginners’ course – the oldest student in the class!

But, once I’ve done my writing-stint, I do – reluctantly – go to the computer and turn my messily scrawled pages into a neat typescript. Then I spend the afternoon revising this typed draft, continually retyping and re-revising, until my mind is soggy and I realize it’s time to call a halt. At that stage, I turn my attention to emails and household tasks, although making the beds at 5p.m. seems appallingly sluttish and I hear my long-dead mother’s voice in my head: ‘Any decent housewife does the chores first thing!’

Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas spring from anywhere and everywhere, especially those for short stories. In my new collection, a pub sign swinging in the wind gave me the idea for Hope and Anchor, while The Little Way arose from viewing the relics of St Therese of Lisieux, on display in Westminster Cathedral. Baggage was prompted by my own total inability to pack light. Even for a weekend-break, I’ll take a cabin-trunk.

I plan to start on an eighth collection of stories, once I’ve completed my new novel, so I’m already on the lookout for ideas. Wherever I go, I keep my senses primed, ready to pounce on even the smallest incident – a puppy in the park, a punk’s flamboyant hairstyle, a fracas on a bus – and then let my imagination get to work and turn this tiny seed into a story.

‘Wherever I go, I keep my senses primed, ready to pounce on even the smallest incident…’- Wendy Perriam on where her ideas come from.

Ideas for novels tend to come less randomly and need much more working out. I may start with a character, like Catherine in Second Skin, who feels she’s never been the person she was born to be, or with a concept such as fear – as in my last novel, Broken Places, or with a situation, such as Lorna’s bungled bunion operation in Tread Softly. Yes, even an unsightly bunion can kick-start a novel!

Check back later today for part two of the interview, when Wendy discusses the digital age and what’s next for her books…

COMPETITION: Win ‘Broken Places’ by Wendy Perriam

Broken Places by Wendy PerriamWendy Perriam’s insightful book Broken Places, released last year in hardback, is out next week in paperback format. Broken Places is the story of Eric the librarian as he battles to overcome his anxieties and reach the fabled ‘happy place’ he’s read about so often in books.

To be one of the first to get their hands on this gorgeous new edition, just tell us in the comments below what book you would put on your library shelves first… if you had one all to yourself!

Broken Places Official Blurb

You may love Eric – or want to shake him! Passionately idealistic about his work as a librarian, he’s also ruefully aware that he’s not exactly Superman. Forced to hide his mysterious background and his mortifying fears, he’s a man with secrets – withheld even from close friends. His once homely wife, now a fashionista, has abandoned him, to live in Seattle with a high-powered corporate kingpin, taking their only child, a moody minx-in-waiting, about to turn thirteen.

Yet, against the odds, Eric sets out to prove himself – indeed, even to find a soul-mate. Whether braving ‘Choco-Love’ Speed-Dating; running Wandsworth Prison readers’ groups; attending an American Church that champions the Gospel of Prosperity, or rescuing his daughter from near-rape – he finally comes to epitomize the truth of Hemingway’s words: The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.

Shortlisted for the MIND Book of the Year, Broken Places combines laugh-out-loud comedy with an examination of fear: the most common – and most frequently concealed – of all our human emotions.

Praise for the Author:

‘Broken Places is a great and adventurous read. The main theme of the novel – that life is fundamentally unfair – is explored with verve, energy, relish and humour. Perriam can be very, very funny’Fay Weldon

‘Perriam writes brilliantly about fear and grief, and the lives of children in care, but she is also savagely, hilariously funny about everything to do with sex.’ The Times

Wendy Perriam‘s novel Broken Places and collection of short stories I’m on the Train! are scheduled for release 30 April 2012. Both are available to pre-order now.

Check out Wendy Perriam‘s website at http://www.wendyperriam.com/

This competition is available to UK entrants only and will close at midnight on Monday 30 April 2012.

James Raven Book Signing in the New Forest for ‘Rollover’

RolloverJames Raven was a journalist for most of his working life. After reporting for local, regional and national newspapers he moved into television in 1982 as a news scriptwriter with TVS television where he then worked his way up to become Director of News across Meridian, Anglia and HTV. When Granada took over most of ITV he became Managing Director of Granada Sport before setting up his own production company. James spends much of his time writing and travelling and also performs magic at various venues across the country.

Here, James tells us about his book signing in the New Forest – where his book, Rollover, is set.

I went to Lymington in the New Forest for my first ever book signing on 21 April. My book, Rollover, is a crime thriller set in Southampton and the New Forest – so it was the obvious place to start a local promotional campaign. The signing was at the Waterstones store on the High Street and luckily for me it was market day and therefore quite busy.

I was very nervous to begin with but the response I got was terrific. There was a lot of interest partly because of the book’s setting in the forest and partly because of the lottery theme which strikes a chord with many.

Since I’m also a semi-professional magician, I did a few tricks for the youngsters who were there with their parents.

Overall, I was pleased with the way it went and I’m looking forward to the next signing at Waterstones in West Quay, Southampton on June 16.

James Raven

James Raven signs Rollover

Rollover by James Raven

Rollover is out now in Hardback. Raven’s next book, Urban Myth, is currently scheduled for release in September 2012, also in Hardback.